While watching the "Affliction Banned" fights, one thing that the commentators kept saying over and over really stuck with me: Andrei Arlovski changed the way he trains, and he no longer fights to survive but to win.
I think as martial artists, we need to examine this within ourselves. Are you training to merely hold on in a fight and come out alive, or are you training to win? This is important. These days, unless you're in a warzone, you don't train as a matter of life or death. We should remember that the fighting arts that we study, however, originated as matters of life or death, and physical combat is serious no matter if your life is on the line or you're just training for a grappling tournament at the end of the month.
Even as kids, we're taught that winning isn't everything as long as you're having fun. However, no one has fun losing in a fight.
Arlovski won his fight with Ben Rothwell, and it had everything to do with the way he trained.
Train smarter, not harder. Eat right, get good coaching, get to practice and train against people better than you.
Musashi, in The Book of Earth, mentions both the value of studying multiple arts in order to broaden the mind and know one's own art better. He also says how important it is to train constantly. I've met way too many people in my martial arts career who would rather talk about fighters, styles, and specific techniques, but I could tell it was more of a hobby and they were full of it. There are many people who begin learning the martial arts to prove a point, rather than just to become better people. They spent more time play fighting than actually drilling. They spent more time photographing themselves in martial arts gear but had never once stepped foot inside a school a day in their life.
Over on the left I've compiled a list of blogs and links to helpful training websites. Learn to use all your resources, and all 6 of your senses (we'll talk about why I said 6 and not 5 later). Train mind, body and spirit. Read up on training and martial arts philosophy and theory. Watch training videos, attend classes. But most of all, get out there and do the work!
This will be a long post, but for the journey we are about to embark on, this is necessary.
Musashi, Miyamoto. Introduction to The Martial Artist's Book of Five Rings: The Definitive Interpretation of Miyamoto Musashi's Classic Book of Strategy. Kaufman, Stephen F., trans. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Publishing, 1994. My name is Miyamoto Musashi. I have killed over sixty men in fights and duels. when I was sixty years of age I looked back upon my life and in a flash of wisdom, realized that all my victories were based on either great luck, innate ability, or perhaps the fact that the methods of other schools were inadequate.
When I came to terms with my own skills and abilities, the realities of what I had accomplished held me to a higher principle that left me no choice but to depart from the commerce of the world, seek isolation, and tear my soul apart so that I could examine what I had already seemed to know instinctively. I practiced and meditated constantly until I came to understand the workings of the spirit.
I am considered to be the greatest swordsman Japan has ever had. It was during my fights and duels that I developed my own style of two-sword fighting. Although I was committed to my sword, I was also dedicated to learning painting, sculpture, and poetry. I instinctively felt it necessary to understand the arts and be accomplished in them. But my prime focus was on swordsmanship. I was not a religious person, although I know of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism and am aware of their tenets.
What will be chaged in my teachings with the passing of time cannot be known. There are however, specific warrior attitudes that make good sense for the martialist. These warrior attitudes are succinct and definitive.
It may seem that I am repeating the same thing over and over. While it is true that I am doing this, it is only to enforce my teachings upon you. By constant repetition you will soon come to understand my Way of strategy. I will not leave it to you to try to quickly grasp my ideas in passing.
"The Book of Five Rings" is divided into five sections called, Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and No-thing-ness. Earth lays the groundwork for the study of the whole book. Water explains attitudes of warriorness through and understanding of strategy. Fire teaches fighting with the principles of Earth and Water. The Book of the Wind describes the differences between my school's style and the styles of other schools. The Book of No-thing-ness describes the "Way" of nature as the true mode of being.
I have not followed the paths of other men. I have lived without the benefit of a teacher and by my own devices. I became a master of myself, and thereby master of the sword and the brush, never differentiating between any of these "arts."
It should be understood that without the assistance of a teacher many roads become open to a practitioner, some on the correct path and some on the incorrect path. It is nto for everyone to be without guidance - only a few, and they are exceptional, can make a journey to wisdom without a teacher. You must have extraordinary passion, patience, and self-discipline to make a journey alone. The goals must be understood, definitive, and no diversion can be acknowledged or permitted if you are to attain enlightenment within the sphere of a chosen art. This is a very difficult road to travel and not many are made for it. It is frustrating, confusing, very lonely, certainly frightening, and it will sometimes make you think you do not have much sanity left to deal with the everyday surroundings of your world. Also, there is no guarantee that you will attain perfection. It must all come from inside you without any preconceived notions on your part.
The recent rise in popularity of the UFC, and consequentially, mixed martial arts has produced a mixed bag of results in the martial arts world. Positively, it has encouraged martial artists to question themselves and become better rounded fighters, and it has attracted people to both the sport and the art that never before would have considered it as an entertainment and lifestyle option. Adversely, over-commercialization has attracted people to the ring who care more about money and image than about becoming better, and more whole, people. This blog is a reaction against the latter result.
Over 350 years ago, legendary samurai warrior, Miyamoto Musashi wrote a book on martial arts strategy called "Go Rin No Sho," or "A Book of Five Rings. His book, which is said to be a compilation of his own teachings to his dojo centered around the five classical elements in Japan (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, No-Thing/Void is considered a classic text on martial strategy. Using Musashi's text as a guide, I have created this blog for the purpose of educating a complete, modern warrior, and not brute fighters. This blog will not be a commentary on "A Book of Five Rings," but rather, the expression of a modern warrior regarding his art in the hopes that others will discover not only the proper way of executing punches and kicks, but also of a better way to live.
Josh earned his 1st degree black belt in traditional tae kwon do in 2002 under the teachings of Eddie Gibson, Sa-Bum-Nim 6th Dan, at Sun Yi's Academy of Traditional Tae Kwon Do in Forest Lake, MN. He has received multiple gold and silver medals from various national tae kwon do tournaments competing in both forms and sparring divisions. Currently, he is training as a mixed martial artist with Kage No Gundan Dojo out of Forest Lake, MN.